Kroger posts 43rd consecutive quarter of growth

Kroger (NYSE: KR) reported net earnings of $347 million in the latest quarterly report, the 43rd consecutive quarter of same-store supermarket sales growth for the company.

"We are winning with customers because we offer a full range of advantages including a great overall shopping experience, excellent customer service, a complete assortment of both national and corporate brand products, and everyday low prices and promotional offerings," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's CEO. "As we improve our connection with customers, we are also executing our growth plan and delivering on our key performance indicators—all of which is fueling strong financial results for shareholders."

Total sales growth increased 11.6 percent to $25.3 billion in the company's second quarter, compared to $22.7 billion in the same period last year. Kroger says a rise in consumer confidence has played a large role in the company's strong earnings over the first half of the year.

The supermarket's strong financial position allowed it to return more than $1.9 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends in the last four quarters.

"We are accelerating core business growth and investing to create unique competitive positioning for today and the future," McMullen said. "Based on our strong quarter results, we raised our net earnings per diluted share and identical supermarket sales growth guidance for the year."

Kroger is one of the world's largest retailers, serving customers in 2,638 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia—under two dozen local banner names.

Kroger reported a positive outlook for its e-commerce future based on the recent acquisition of Vitacost. The retailer purchased the healthy living e-commerce company for $280 million a few months back.

"We believe Kroger is uniquely positioned to blend the art of retailing and deep customer insights with a superb online experience," said Mike Ellis, president and COO, during a recent earnings call. "Vitacost people and extensive e-commerce platform coupled with Kroger's customer insights and loyal customer base will really be a powerful combination that we can leverage to create new levels of personalization and convenience for our customers. We intend to build on Vitacost's robust technology platform and integrate it with our existing digital footprint to do just that."

For more:
-See this Kroger press release
-See this Seeking Alpha transcript

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